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Seven Cities of Gold

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Seven Cities of Gold, also known as the Seven Cities of Cibola (/ˈsbələ/), is a myth that was popular in the 16th century. It is also featured in several works of popular culture. According to legend, the seven cities of gold could be found throughout the pueblos of the New Mexico Territory.[1]

Besides "Cibola", names associated with similar lost cities of gold also include: El Dorado, Paititi, City of the Caesars, Lake Parime at Manoa, Antilia, and Quivira.

Origins of myth

In the 16th century, the Spaniards in New Spain (now Mexico) began to hear rumors of "Seven Cities of Gold" called "Cíbola" located across the desert, hundreds of miles to the north. The stories may have their root in an earlier Portuguese legend about seven cities founded on the island of Antillia by a Catholic expedition in the 8th century, or one based on the capture of Mérida, Spain by the Moors in 1150.

The later Spanish tales were largely caused by reports given by the four shipwrecked survivors of the failed Narváez expedition, which included Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and a black moorish slave named Esteban Dorantes, or Estevanico. Eventually returning to New Spain, the adventurers said they had heard stories from natives about cities with great and limitless riches. In 1539, Italian franciscan Marco da Nizza reached Zuni Pueblo and called it Cibola. However, when conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado finally arrived at Cíbola in 1540, he discovered that the stories were unfounded and that there were, in fact, no treasures as the friar had described — only adobe towns.

While among the towns, Coronado heard an additional rumor from a native he called "the Turk" that there was a city with plenty of gold called Quivira located on the other side of the great plains. However, when at last he reached this place (variously conjectured to be in modern Kansas, Nebraska or Missouri), he found little more than straw-thatched villages.

The historic Cibola on the other hand is recorded in Spanish sources as another name for the Zuñi pueblo and the surrounding country. The Spanish soon discovered rich copper and turquoise mines in the Pueblo country which made the region famous for its mineral wealth even in recent times. The Pueblo Indians including the Zuñi are still well known for their Turquoise and silver work.

In popular culture


  • The song "Hitchinchilla' to Quivira" from independent singer-songwriter Tyler Jakes's 2016 album Mojo Suicide is based on the story of Coronado's expedition.
  • Seven Cities of Gold is the seventh track on the Clockwork Angels album by Rush. The lyrics were inspired by lyricist Neil Peart's fascination for southwestern US history.[2]


  • The 1955 film Seven Cities of Gold starring Richard Egan, Anthony Quinn, and Michael Rennie tells the story of a 1769 Spanish expedition to California led by Gaspar De Portola to search of gold and to set up Spanish colonies. However, Father Junipero Serra is there to set up a network of Roman Catholic missions.
  • The 1958 film The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels refers to the Seven Cities of Gold several times in this movie. The Lone Ranger and Tonto investigate the brutal murders of three Native Americans who each possessed a silver medallion. The silver medallions together created a treasure map giving the location of one of the Seven Cities of Gold. At the end of the movie, the Lone Ranger and Tonto do find the City of Gold in a cavern, but they turn it over to a doctor, a priest, and the local Native Americans so they can build a hospital.
  • The 1992 film ¡O No Coronado! by Craig Baldwin details Coronado's ill-fated expedition, in the context of contemporary treatment of indigenous Americans and usage of their traditional lands.
  • Cíbola was discovered beneath Mount Rushmore in National Treasure: Book of Secrets, a 2007 film starring Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger.




  • Scrooge McDuck and his nephews discover the seven cities in the comic "The Seven Cities of Cibola" (Uncle Scrooge #7, September 1954), written and drawn by Carl Barks.[3][4]
  • The Vertigo/DC comic book series Jack of Fables recently began a storyline called "Americana" which relates the efforts of Jack of the Tales in entering Cíbola (issue 17, January 8 cover date).
  • There is an arc in the Italian Western/science fiction comic Zagor about seven cities of gold which were abandoned and were remnants of an ancient highly developed civilization (Zagor #355-357, ITA/CRO: "Le sette città di Cibola" / "Sedam gradova Cibole").
  • In the albums Beyond the Windy Isles and Celtic Tales (respectively 19701971 and 1971–1972), Hugo Pratt puts Corto Maltese on the track of these cities.

Video games

  • Electronic Arts published the video game, The Seven Cities of Gold in 1984
  • The video game Uncharted: Golden Abyss uses Quivira (one of the Seven Cities of Gold) as a final destination for the quest. The game also gives an explanation why Marcos de Niza lied about the location of the cities even though he really did find them.
  • The video game Europa Universalis IV has the El Dorado expansion which gives colonizing nations the ability to hunt for the Seven Cities of Gold in the New World.
  • In the turn-based strategy game Sid Meier's Colonization (1994), scouting lost city ruins (tiles in the map) may result in finding one or more of the Seven Cities of Cibola, granting the player a treasure with a huge amount of gold.
  • The Western genre game Gun centers on a land baron's search for Quivira in the 1880s.
  • In Civilization Revolution for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and the Nintendo DS, players can find the Seven Cities of Gold. The player who finds the Seven Cities of Gold receives 200 to 350 gold pieces, depending on the era, to spend on building cities, military units, settlers (people that found new cities), or roads.
  • In the turn-based strategy game Sid Meier's Civilization V, the Spanish unique ability is called Seven Cities of Gold, where the player receives bonus Gold resources for discovering natural wonders.

See also


  1. ^ Drye, Willie. "Seven Cities of Cibola". National Geographic. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Seven Cities Of Gold by Rush Songfacts". Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  3. ^ The Seven Cities of Cibola at Inducks
  4. ^ Blum, Geoffrey (1996). Wind from a Dead Galleon. The Adventures of Uncle Scrooge McDuck in Color. 7. Gladstone Publishing. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
This page was last edited on 16 March 2021, at 04:02
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